Adams-Cheshire Superintendent Kristin Gordan, top left, is researching why 300 children aren't enrolled in the public school district.
ADAMS, Mass. — School officials are looking for ways to market its educational facilities to families living right in the school district.
Almost 300 children live in Adams or Cheshire but do not attend their public schools. Officials are starting to take a close look at how to bring those students in to counteract a countywide declining enrollment.
Fresh on the job, new Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Superintendent Kristin Gordon has made it a goal to analyze the enrollment numbers to find out what it'll take to keep those students.
Initially, she sees the issues — beyond the shrinking population numbers in the county and state — being a very transient population in the district towns and students opting to go to other schools.
According to Business Manager David Hinkle, there are about 71 fewer students enrolled in the district this year than last year.
While Gordon says a kindergarten class can often fluctuate those numbers by as many as 20, the decreasing numbers are a priority concern.
"This is something I am really passionate about and want to wrap my head around," Gordon said on Monday.
The shrinking numbers also have an impact on the budget — students leaving the district take state funding with them.
Gordon's begun asking for data from principals and administrators. Gordon said she doesn't want to analyze it by large-scale numbers but rather take a closer look at individual students to find out what the district has to do to better serve those who are leaving.
One student, she used as an example, went to McCann Technical School for high school but that made sense because two of the student's older siblings went there. Others start at St. Stanislaus' School and stay there through Grade 8 after making friends.
But sometimes it is not so clear why students opt to go elsewhere and those aspects she hopes to understand.
"A lot of kids do what their siblings do," Gordon said.
She sees opportunity for growth because this year at C.T. Plunkett Elementary School, about an equal number of students transferred in from other districts as transferred out. Keeping the ones who leave in the district could alleviate the dropping numbers.
One aspect the school has little control over is transient housing. Many children leave the district because their families finds better or more permanent housing elsewhere. Gordon said she hopes to work with housing groups to improve living but she knows there isn't much a school district can do on that front.
The shrinking enrollment numbers are nothing new to the county's school districts as nearly every school has raised concern over those numbers. In the Adams-Cheshire district, enrollment has dropped by nearly 200 since 2009.
Gordon said she hopes to have a full report on enrollment by next month and then the district will beginning planning ways to "promote the school."